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April 21, 2010

Gloves come off quickly at forum for Bloody 8th

TERRE HAUTE — Eighth Congressional District GOP candidate Bud Bernitt on Wednesday accused fellow GOP candidate Kristi Risk of being “fast and loose with the facts,” saying she “did a John Kerry flip-flop” between debates in Washington and Evansville.

The two were among six candidates participating in an Eighth Congressional District GOP candidate forum at Ivy Tech Community College, south of Terre Haute. The event, with about 50 people in attendance, was sponsored by the Wabash Valley Young Republicans and the Pachyderm Club.

“In Washington, Ms. Risk clearly said the war in Afghanistan and Iraq were unconstitutional and that she would defund” those wars, saying the wars “were unconstitutional due to the fact that we did not get a declaration of war from Congress,” Bernitt said.

In a recent debate in Evansville, “she did a John Kerry flip-flop and said she would support funding the troops,” Bernitt said of Risk.

“We have enough politicians in Washington, D.C., that will tell you anything you want to get your vote. Quite frankly, as a normal citizen, I am tired of it,” said Bernitt, a Realtor in Bloomington.

In addition, Bernitt said Risk misrepresents her farm. “She has a couple of acres, couple of goats in a subdivision. I find it very troubling that someone would go out there, and for votes would mislead voters,” Bernitt said.

After the forum, Risk, an Owen County homemaker and community activist, said she was trying “in just two minutes” in a debate in Washington “to explain the rules of the War Powers Act and explain that we don’t want a political war, but we want to give the generals the authority to fight the war.

“What I stated was in a previous war, what Congress had done was zeroed the budget. I stated that as an example, but obviously Mr. Bernitt took that as my view. I was stating an example,” Risk said, adding that Congress cut off funding for the Vietnam War.

Risk said in Evansville that she would fund the wars, but “would want a clear objective and want generals to have the authority and have the politicalness taken out of it.”

The other GOP candidates included Dr. Larry D. Bucshon, a cardiologist; John Lee Smith, a financial adviser and former Monroe County councilman; Dan Stockton, a production control analyst for an auto company; and Steve Westell, a former state conservation officer.

Candidates Billy Y. Mahoney, a construction worker, and John K. Snyder, a businessman and former U.S. deputy undersecretary of commerce, were not present.

All of the candidates at the forum said national health care, as adopted by Congress, should be repealed. All the candidates said they oppose the cap-and-trade legislation to limit carbon dioxide emissions, largely from coal powered power plants prevalent in the Midwest. The measure has passed the House and is pending in the Senate.

All of the candidates supported increasing funding for border security, with Westell advocating for Border Patrol officers to have M-16 rifles so people “realize we mean business. We can even put in some water cannons, if it makes you feel warm and fuzzy.”

All of the candidates also said federal spending must be cut to eliminate the national debt.

Bucshon added that the federal “corporate tax structure needs to be reviewed and revised, the reason is we are not competitive on the global market. The average corporate tax in the European Union is about 25 percent; in the United States, it is 35 percent. I think our government has been slow to realize we are in a global economy. We are not competing state-to-state anymore.”

Smith, who ran for Congress in 1988 and 1996, said government spending should be limited to 20 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product. Smith added that he thinks the breakdown of the family has resulted in a breakdown of education.

To get the U.S. economy going, Stockton said, “Build refineries. It puts people to work in long-term, good jobs, not construction jobs. If we reduce the red tape associated with permitting, allowing refineries to be built on the federal level, we can build refineries to refine our own oil, open up some of the smaller-producing wells in southern Indiana and lower our gas prices, creating a consumer demand for goods and services.”

Risk advocates for a national tax “that is fair across the nation” and a repeal of income taxes, while Bernitt said education is a states’ rights issue, with the federal government overreaching its authority.

Howard Greninger can be contacted at (812) 231-4204 or

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